Monday, October 31, 2005

Non-technical losses in power systems

Non-technical losses (NTL) in electricity distribution include mainly electricity theft, but also losses due to poor equipment maintenance, calculation errors and accounting mistakes. In this thesis, the issue of NTL is defined and its extent assessed in Thailand, USA and Eastern Europe. Measures taken by utilities against NTL are described.

View report

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

'True' cost of energy

Four years ago, the EU-funded EXTERNE project presented the results of a large study proving that the cost of producing electricity from coal and oil would be double what it was if the 'external' costs, such as environmental damage, were to be included.
Health impacts are a major focus, in addition to environment. Polluting power plants in the EU-25 cause health impacts, including morbidity, with a cost equivalent to tens of billions of euro every year.
Building on the results of the EXTERNE project, a new project 'NEEDS' will apply the EXTERNE method to policy making and options for the future energy system in Europe.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Carbon reduction potentials

The Climate Group has issued for the 2nd time its report 'Carbon Down - Profits Up' demonstrating the carbon reduction potential of corporations, cities and regions. Total 74 companies, 34 cities and 16 regions have actually reduced emissions by up to 50%, set targets up to 80%. Some are close to carbon neutrality on specific energy-using sectors.
Energy efficiency invariable shows up in the measures taken by actors to reduce carbon emissions. 43 out of 74 companies have reported total $11.6 Billion energy cost savings resulting from their carbon reduction programme. Amounts invested are rarely reported.
View report

Saturday, October 22, 2005

'Factor 4' Solutions: the passive house

Passive Houses consume less than 15 kWh/m2.year final energy for their heating requirements, compared to a typical use of 100-150 kWh/m2.year for standard homes, i.e. a reduction of minimum 85%. In Europe, about 6-7000 Passive Houses have been constructed so far, primarily in Austria, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia. The concept is spreading to other countries such as e.g. Denmark, France and The Netherlands. Passive Houses strive as well for economy in their other energy uses, such as electricity and hot water production, targeting a 50% reduction, and setting a criteria for maximum 50 kWh/m2.year total final energy use.

GVEP & REEEP join forces

The Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) have signed a formal agreement to commit themselves to cooperating in order to promote clean energy systems, while leveraging each organisation’s delivery infrastructure.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Costs & benefits from 1.5 decade of electricity liberalisation

Referring to Leonardo ENERGY's discussion paper on this subject, prepared by AERE, a web event took place today to present the findings of the paper. Participants reacted that, although the paper does not present major new facts, it puts together a growing body of evidence that pictures a quite different story on liberalisation than is usually reported. View the presentation slides from the web event.

The transition of the electricity grid

Nobody can predict the future but one thing is for sure: "the power system is changing" and its rate of change increases. This change is driven by regulatory frameworks, policies to increase the amount of renewables and the availability of small-scale technologies combined with advanced information and control capabilities. Power systems are in a transition finding a new equilibrium between costs, performance and risk and the question asked is: "what will be the mix of old and new technologies shaping the grid of the future?". The inevitable introduction of local generation and storage on numerous places in the power distribution network poses the important questions: "who is responsible for the availability and reliability?" and "how is the transition of the grid managed?". Overcoming thresholds and prevention of the reach of a deadlock is of the utmost importance, considering our society's still growing dependence on electrically powered devices.

View article

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DG in future grids: will energy islands become a reality?

In modern distribution grids, DG (distributed generation) technologies emergy. The most far going implementation are 'energy islands' with a high degree of autonomy from the central grid. At present, it is uncertain whether such more or less independent energy islands are a good idea from a technical and economic viewpoint. It is worthwhile to observe experiments for such microgrids around the world, in order to determine how we are going to use them in the electricity grid of the future.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Green Paper on Energy Efficiency

Supporting EECA's discussion series on the green paper, materials such as presentations, discussion transcripts and background materials available from the website.

How much energy?

According to the World Energy Assessment, the world consumes about 400 Exajoules/year of primary energy (1 EJ = 10E18 J = 24 Mtoe = 0.96 Quad = 278 TWh), or about 60 GJ per capita per year. But energy use is by far not spread equally. North Americans consume 350 GJ, Europeans 150, and Africa only 40 GJ. Russia/CIS consumers 150 GJ, i.e. the same amount as Europe, but produces much less units of GDP, and hence welfare, per unit of energy consumed.
Europe could save 30% of its primary energy use, establishing a benchmark of 100 GJ/capita for a fully industrialised society. For a future world population of 9 billion people, this means a need to plan for an energy system of 900 EJ/year/capita. With 'technological leapfrogging', developing countries could avoid some of the mistakes made by Europe, settling the figure to for example 800 EJ, or slightly below 100 GJ per world citizen.
Not managing this growth properly, may result in a much more energy-vorous system. At 350 GJ per capita, a world of 9 billion would consume over 3000 EJ, requiring for example 33,000 nuclear power plants, 150 million wind turbines, 4 million square km of solar arrays, or any combination thereof.
Another issue is that we an increasing share of renewables and decentralised generation, and with the new energy technologies that can be expected in the future, we may need a new system for energy accounting. The current system is largely based on fossil fuel accounting, and does not properly address modern energy forms, which have been of marginal importance until recently.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The complexity of energy efficiency

A recent report by Hans Nilsson (4-Fact) and Ylva Blume (Borgco) discusses the complex nature of energy efficiency (EE). Although it is the 'quickest, largest and cheapest potential' to contribute to Europe's energy policy objectives, it is also the most complex potential. This derives from the fact that EE is not a tradable good, but a characteristic embedded, and hidden in our energy systems.
There is no 'silver bullet' solution to this paradox. The report calls for initiatives that make EE 'available and attractive', laying the groundwork for policy packages that go beyond mere incentives.
Certificates and commitments for energy efficiency have the potential to strengthen the distribution of efficiency, for example through ESCO's.

Transcript of Commissioner Piebalg's speech to the Amsterdam Sustainable Energy Forum

Commissioner Piebalg closed the first Amsterdam Forum considering it an important meeting as it is the first structured consultation where Member States, European Parliament and stakeholders are gathered.
He referred to the Green Paper that sets out an ambitious goal and starts from the assumption that by 2020 we can save 20% of our current energy consumption in the European Union, in a cost-effective way. Energy efficiency improvements will continue in the future to make a major contribution to alleviating Europe's security of supply problem and to improving competitiveness ...

Friday, October 14, 2005

White book on electric heating

GIFAM, a French association of 60 manufacturers of home appliances has issued a white book on electric heating applications in the home, outlining some of the advantages of modern electric heating systems:
  • no emissions at the point of use (in addition - for France - low emissions in production)
  • 100% efficient at the point of use: electricity as an energy carrier can be fully converted to heat
  • safety: electricity has an impressive safety track record
  • simplicity, maintenance-free: electric heating systems have a long lifetime and do not need annual maintenance
  • ease of use, comfortable, clean
  • easy to control, flexible: electrons can be used to control electrons. Heat can be controlled to be issued exactly at the point where needed, in the quantity needed.


Obviously, there is no worse method than electric heating for poorly insulated dwellings in a cold climate using a carbon-intensive electricity system. However, this situation applies only to a small fraction of dwellings in Europe. Apart from this, a few other observations can be made:
  • Electric heating and insulation go hand in hand. Dwellings are usually built with a fixed budget, without margin for the owner. The cost reduction of the heating system can be invested in good insulation, and ventilation.
  • (Electric) heat can be stored with 95% efficiency, compared to 50% for hydrogen, and 70-85% for batteries. In this way, electric heat can assist deep penetration of intermittent renewables.
  • Electric heating allows to serve all energy services in a dwelling with a single energ carrier.
  • Modern power stations can convert up to 60% of the primary energy content of fossil fuel into electricity.
Finally, dwellings are becoming more compact, with smaller family units, in increasingly urban environments. To heat a well insulated, totaly enclosed compact dwelling, there is no better method than electricity. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that low-temperature electric heating is the fastest growing application of electricity in the US.
View white book (in French)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

World Fire Statistics 2005

Establishing gradually a tradition, the Geneva Assocation just published its 2005 issue of its World Fire Statistics series, documenting fire losses, fire deaths and costs of fire prevention. Fire, including its prevention, protection and repression costs developed economies about 1% of GDP, but these costs vary widely between countries. Also, there does not seem to be a pattern of evidence supporting that high investment in fire protection leads to fewer fire losses and death.
Although this is probably one of the best data collection initiative in its field around the world, the statistical database is still very poor, and insufficient to guide programme effort to reduce fire deaths and financial losses from fire.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

White, green and black certificates: three interacting sustainable energy instruments

This paper presents three different types of certificates ('white' for energy savings, 'green' for renewable electricity, and 'black' for greenhouse gas reductions in the European Emission Trading Scheme). The current limited experiences with these instruments already allow to define some of the success factors for these new instruments. A synthesis of their current application presents how much energy is saved today due to these certificates, and how much green electricity is produced. A discussion on the methods for setting the targets, measuring the impacts on the market and the interaction between these different instruments concludes this paper, followed by a reminder of the proposal to create an international agency on global stewardship for climate change issues.
View article

Monday, October 10, 2005

Webcast - uncommon & unexpected metering errors

In today's electrical environments, where power quality has become a major issue, it is often said that measuring and monitoring become increasingly important. While this is certainly true, it also brings about plenty of opportunities to receive wrong or irrelevant results and to miss the relevant ones on account of using inadequate equipment, of insufficient knowledge about the working principles of the equipment one is using, of metering at the wrong place or time or of misinterpreting the results obtained. In this one-hour webcast, a number of examples from practiceare highlighted and recommendations given how not to get trapped in these partly typical, partly unusual pitfalls.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Is renewable energy a misnomer?

Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, it's impossible to have an energy source, let alone a 'renewable energy source'. In this article, Eike Roth from Energie Fakten shares his energy philosophy.
See also from the same author a reference article on thermal power plant efficiency:

Friday, October 07, 2005

First carbon CDM credits imminent

Three Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects have submitted "requests for issuance" of carbon credits – meaning that the first such Kyoto Protocol carbon credits could be issued within weeks. The Rio Blanco and La Esperanza small hydro projects will have respectively created 7,304 and 2,210 Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) – each representing one tonne of carbon dioxide. The Rajasthan biomass plant is applying for 48,230 CERs, which will be created by 20 October unless a review is triggered.

Security of supply is not a single variable

When renewable activists talk about wind energy's contribution to Security of Supply, electrical engineers don't know what they're talking about. The background is that Security of Supply has many facets, and means very different things to different people. A Eurelectric report contributes to the understanding of the issue, breaking it down in following variables:
  • Long-term
    • Access to primary fuels
    • System adequacy (Generation adequacy + Network adequacy)
    • Market adequacy
  • Short-term: Operation Security
Wind power, for example, improves 'access to primary fuels', but performs less on other aspects. Gas-fired power stations, on the other hand, do not improve security of fuel supply, but supports well the other aspects of supply security.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The experience with energy efficiency in IEA countries

Is energy efficiency as good as it sounds? Proponents of energy efficiency policies sometimes face difficult questions. For example, if more efficient heating, refrigeration or lighting appliances reduce the energy bills, do consumers tend to use them more, thus eroding the energy savings? Or are the energy planners basing their calculations on flawed assumptions, or on unrealistic discount rates? Do energy efficiency drives sometimes trigger perverse effects? These and many other searching questions are addressed and answered in a recent IEA Information Paper, The Experience with Energy Efficiency Policies and Programmes in IEA Countries: Learning from the Critics. The authors take a positive view and indicate lessons to be learned from past experience.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

60% carbon reduction scenario's

Taking the 21 step chart to 60%, through further lifestyle measures, homes in 2050 will all be 'zero energy'. Consumption, food and personal transport would have changed beyond recognition. The major remaining environmental impacts will be food consumption and non-residential buildings.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

21 steps to reduce carbon emissions by 50%

This 21 steps chart by ZedFactory demonstrates, in a UK setting, the challenge of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions. Starting from a 11.9 tonne greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per capita per year, it reduces emissions gradually to 5.4 t/yr.
The scheme starts with a number of basic measures on buildings, urban planning and transport, followed by a major push for renewable electricity and heat. Finally, to achieve 50%, more drastic measures address embodied energy in products & food, as well as recycling and waste reduction. Following measures come out as the top 5 impacts:
  1. Advanced building shells of 16.2 kWh/m2.year (-0.5 tonne)
  2. Renewable electricity (-0.5 tonne)
  3. Recycling (-0.45 tonne)
  4. Reduced consumption of manufactured goods (-0.45 tonne)
  5. Energy efficient workspaces (-0.4 tonne)
The chart shows the challenge of a 50% GHG reduction, improving homes to the passive standard, changing urban form, the way we live and work, as well as food habits and consumption patterns. The good news is, that according to DTI's Energy White Paper, all this can be achieved at a cost of 6 months of GDP growth by 2050.